Health officials react to suspension of at-home Covid tests
BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - Since the start of the year, the free, at-home Covid-19 testing program has provided more than 16 free tests per household in the United States via the postal service. Now, that program is facing suspension due to a lack of federal funding.
According to the CDC website, Congress will not allocate more funds for the program as it is reserving tests and money in the chacne of a fall surge.
WVVA reached out to several health departments in The Mountain State to see how this might affect them now that more people may be turning to clinics for testing. Bonnie Allen, Administrator of the Mercer County Health Department, says this decision will put a strain on the department.
“We have limited resources to purchase more becasue they are so expensive,” Allen said. “So, what it boils doen to, when we are out of rapid tests, then we aren’t going to have any free resources for the community.”
However, according to Allie Phillips, Population Health Manager for the Lenowisco and Cumberland Health Districts of the Virginia Department of Health, it is a different story in the Commonwealth.
“I know that we have tons of tests in all of our health department locations so individuals can still, as of right now, they can still come to our health departments to get tested. I can’t imagine ever seeing us have a lack of tests available at our health departments.”
To get a better sense of West Virginia’s position, WVVA also spoke with the state’s Coronavirus Czar and WVU’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Clay Marsh. He says, like in Virginia, local health departments have nothing to worry about.
“As we transition on the testing, we will have to see, you know, the feedback from the county health departments and from other sources to understand if that does create a substantial obstacle. We have been intentionally creating a bit of a reservoir inventory, if you will, for rapid tests so we can make sure that nobody in West Virginia has to go without being tested...”
Dr. Marsh says these reserve tests can be quickly distributed to departmentes in need.
The at-home tests will be suspsended effective Friday, September 2.
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